WHEATON - With Governor Pat Quinn signing a bill to allow DuPage County charge a stormwater fee, the county board is expected to take up the issue at the Tuesday, August 27th meeting. The new fee would charge property owners a utility fee based on the amount of stormwater displaced by their property.
That would mean non-taxed property owners such as churches and county forest preserves may be required to pay the new utility fee to offset the costs of alleviating stormwater, a financial burden that could especially affect churches' abilities to minister to their communities. Taxpayers could end up being forced to bear the new fee's cost to the county's forest preserves.
County board members can expect to see the street into the DuPage complex lined with protestors holding umbrellas August 27th, a Tri-Count-Teas organizer said Thursday evening. Members of the group said they plan to participate in DuPage County Board's public comment period next Tuesday with concerns over the cost of the new fee, how it may affect church budgets and if upgrading their private properties to get the proposed stormwater credits could endanger their property rights.
State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) said the stormwater issue is a difficult one.
"There are property owners whose properties put strain on the stormwater system, but everyone else bears the cost," she said at the Tri-Count-Teas meeting. Previous to being elected to the Illinois House, Ives served on the Wheaton City Council and was familiar with the stormwater issue.
Because West Chicago Republican State Rep. Mike Fortner proposed the idea and led it through the House, Ives referred to the legislation as "Rep. Fortner's bill."
She said those using the system more should pay more for its use.
"I have always preferred user fees over taxing. It just seems right that those using a service more should pay for it," she said. "It is my understanding that Governor Walker in Wisconsin has had great success with this system of paying for storm drainage, and it seemed like something DuPage should be allowed to try."
On the other hand, the whole idea may collapse because of the complications in determining the fees and collecting those fees, Ives said, after talking to a DuPage County official.
"Residents should be better protected from the flooding like we experienced this spring, and this other piece of legislation establishes a framework to improve their stormwater management," Quinn said in a statement released after he signed the legislation.
The bill's implementation is now in the hands of the DuPage County Board.